New York Times Quotes Trevor Potter and Matthew Sanderson on Prosecuting Trump Over Call With Raffensperger
The call by President Trump on Saturday to Georgia’s secretary of state raised the prospect that Mr. Trump may have violated laws that prohibit interference in federal or state elections, but lawyers said on Sunday that it would be difficult to pursue such a charge.
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Matthew T. Sanderson, a Republican election lawyer who has worked on several presidential campaigns — including those of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rick Perry, the former Texas governor — said that while it did appear that Mr. Trump was trying to intimidate Mr. Raffensperger, it was not clear that he violated the law.
That is because while Mr. Trump clearly implied that Mr. Raffensperger might suffer legal consequences if he did not find additional votes for the president in Georgia, Mr. Trump stopped short of saying he would deliver on the threat himself against Mr. Raffensperger and his legal counsel, Ryan Germany, Mr. Sanderson said.
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Lacking additional clear evidence of Mr. Trump’s intent to follow up on any apparent threat, including the potential criminal charges he suggested Mr. Raffensperger or his office might face, Mr. Sanderson said, “Ultimately, I doubt this is behavior that would be prosecuted.”
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Trevor Potter, a Republican former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said the question would largely be up to the Justice Department in the Biden administration.
There is a good argument that Trump is seeking to procure a fraudulent vote count by stating that he needs exactly 11,780 votes and is threatening the secretary of state if he does not produce them,” Mr. Potter said. “But even if the Biden Justice Department thinks they have a good case, is that how they want to start off the Biden presidency? That is a policy decision.”
Matthew Sanderson and Trevor Potter are also Members of the Political Law Group at Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered.
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